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Review of 2021

Whilst the world beyond my garden gate has gone from insane to 'you've got to be kidding!', the little bubble around our house has been happy and content. Admittedly we could have had more sun this summer as it had been very grey, but the garden has had a rest from a scorching summer and is looking very green and fresh, with spring bulbs already coming up.


I have had some right obstacles to overcome this year, none of which were my doing. Back in January Brexit meant I would no longer be selling to the EU. New postal rules had been introduced just for Europe and they were too time consuming to have to work out. Therefore I had to remove the EU from my postal destinations. Mid year the post office created a new pricing system just for America literally doubling the costs. This had a knock on effect and reduced my USA sales by about 80%. With both of these postal changes I was really concerned about my future as I sent a lot to both Europe and the USA. However I shouldn't have worried as by the end of the year it had all come good!


I also had to deal with 'bot spikes' on Etsy. Twice during the summer the statistics for my shop had been falsely altered to show 25,000 'likes' had been added to my listings. To Etsy algorithms this meant lots of people had liked my Stuff but hadn't bought. My conversion rate, (ratio of likes to sales), dropped so far I was virtually invisible in Etsy searches. However, again this didn't seem to make a difference. By the end of the year I noticed a huge rise in 'guests', (not registered on Etsy), buying from my store directed from my website and Pinterest and with folk who had bought before, the year eventually ended with me being just 1% down on orders and 8% up on revenue compared to last year. Quite incredible with all things considered. I also have checked my worldwide rankings and out of 1.6 million shops I am ranked 86, 915.

By the start of summer I had stocked my shop up for the chaos that is December. I didn't want to be hectically making and spending hours packing lots of orders like last Christmas and so spent the first 6 months of the year making birdies and drafties. I had also invested in proper postal boxes to fit the folded drafties which made them really special with all my fancy packaging. My plan was to have 3 months off in the summer reading books and pottering around the garden. We had a very cool, grey summer and so decided to make some really big, floating pom pom wall hangings. These were SUCH good fun to make with so many colours, pom sizes and various combinations to choose from, the possible outcomes were endless. They took 100 hours to make and I have many more design ideas such as a topical rainbow theme to try out. With the right lighting these poms look like they are floating!

My very dear friend bought an old farmhouse at the back end of the year and I wanted to make a special birdie for her main bedroom. The specifications were that it had to be cottagey and I wanted to ensure the colours were a perfect match. I had an idea I'd been meaning to try but it would only work if I had the exact length that the birdie cord needed to be, meaning if I were to make these for my shop, they would have to be bespoke, made to order. My ratio of 'pre-made' vs 'made to order' is perfect. I never have commissioned orders stacked up, meaning things made are dispatched within a day or so of ordering. I am still deciding as to whether to offer these birdies with the ribbon leaf twine, as they are unlike the current birdies that can be hung to any length.

At the start of winter I found I had plenty of spare time, having stocked up my shop in spring and

with the lack of greeting cards going to the USA I decided to draw some new colouring sheets. I had just redesigned how I sent out my poster sized colouring sheets and with having an expensive, posh A2 printer not earning its keep I decided to come up with a series of moon gazing hare sheets, with an actual photograph of the moon photoshopped onto the poster. Having researched on Pinterest and Etsy there is nothing like these and so I am hoping they will be really successful! They take a week to draw but it is really relaxing and I really enjoy drawing them. Once this poster is finished it will be scanned onto a memory stick, so it can be printed in a light grey ink onto 200gm multi media paper.

The lavender harvest was extremely successful this year, though the flower heads were not as plump as 2020, though the stalks were nice and long. I had an extra 3 gardens to do as I nearly ran out of lavender last year. Considering 45% of my Stuff needs lavender, (birdies and wands), it was important to locate some new gardens. One lady had bought a wand and loved the quality of the lavender so much that she asked if she could buy some loose. She told me that many sellers dye and add scent lavender, whereas mine is exactly as the bush made it, virtually untouched by human hands. This was a lovely thing to be asked to do, in the planning and preparing and I took the opportunity to get some great photos

As we came to the end of the year my husband and I made the picket fence I had designed for

the front of the house. We had our tree guy pull up an awfully irregular, tatty hedge and having spent 3 weeks painting each piece with 3 coats of paint, the panels were assembled and erected. This was a huge project, but definitely worth it. The wood is fabulously thick, recycled from old pallets and I will plant the bed with lupins for spring and fuchsias for the summer. Once the masonry above the windows is painted the same colour as the fence and a 'hare' gate is made, the front aspect will look exactly as I imagined! There is a dusky, Old English climbing, pink rose that will grow 15 feet across the front and I cannot wait for it to get going. It was only planted this year, but I'm hoping next summer it will put on a fabulous display.

We made our donation to the bunny rescue and rehoming centre on the 23rd December. This is the 3rd year this rescue centre has had a donation and they chose 14 bags of food and some straw. I met Kay (on the left, me on the right) at the pet food store and paid for their wish list. I'd rather pay for goods than give a cash donation because we can visually see the difference we have made.


As the year rolls to an end, things have been peaceful and uncomplicated. We had a beautiful Solstice and one of my friends made the most beautiful Yule Log. Oh my gosh, it smelt totally divine. The little robins I give as

gifties with first orders finally made it into my shop. Each Christmas I get asked about these tiny robins but always wanted to keep them as exclusive little 'thank you' gifties. When I came across tiny 7 mm red jingle bells which went perfectly with little Mulberry paper holly leaves, I decided they'd be perfect for the robins. They were very well received... I made batch after batch through November.

Magical log fire

There are some great ideas in the making for the coming year. I am very excited about woollen bunnies filled with lavender. I will be out-sourcing the knitting part of this project as I do not have the time to knit. The profits will be evenly split with a lady from the village. It is a little scary relying on a third party but I can see it being a harmonious partnership once the bunnies get discovered on Etsy. There's nothing like them on Etsy and they will be very cute! I need to make some new drafties to replace the ones that have sold. It is going to be cold this winter so I must restock the colours that have already sold. No two drafties are the same, but I have noticed that blue, green or brown drafties sell the quickest, and I have an abundance of all these wool colours in many different shades. In preparation for the new wool bunnies selling well this Easter I will be needing even more lavender for the following year, (in case they really take off in 2023). I am going to design a pretty postcard that I can pop through letterboxes when I see a local garden with lavender I would like to harvest.


It's crazy to think I am planning for Easter '23 already, but when you're a crafter you need to be thinking 4 months ahead, plus when you're using the garden for the craft it may be necessary to add on a growing season and in the case of lavender that's a whole year. In May I will be looking around local villages for the lavender I prefer so that in September it will be harvested ready for the following Easter. This sort of preparation may be one of the reasons I was awarded a 'Star Seller' badge on Etsy this year. These are awarded to shops that commit to all of Esty's selling requirements, from prompt messaging, on time dispatch and 5* reviews. This year I also reached the milestone of making 1000 sales, so all in all, despite all the setbacks, and there were a lot of serious ones, it has been a great year! In fact it was my best year to date. If only we'd had a scorching summer it would have been perfect!














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1 Comment


merlinshebaamber
merlinshebaamber
Dec 26, 2021

I love the picket fence, you must be very proud of it. It sounds like you are going to be extremely busy over the next year or more and I wish you every success.

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